Why it was no surprise that controversial CRISPR babies happened in China

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Image credit: Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press

The headline-making births last November of the world’s first gene-edited babies (twin girls) was unsurprising in one way: The scientist involved was from China. As part of its effort to dominate scientific spheres including biotechnology, China has taken the lead in testing uses of Crispr… . Now China is confronting accusations that its regulatory system is overlooking the ethical considerations and medical risks.

China wants to be a leader in the defining technologies of the 21st century and has poured billions into funding research. As a participant chosen for its prestigious Thousand Talents scheme — a plan to lure back talented Chinese from overseas — [scientist He Jiankui] would have received at least a starting bonus of about $143,000 for his research, with the possibility of additional research grants of roughly $700,000. … According to the database clinicaltrials.gov, China has 12 human trials involving the Crispr method. One of these is active, with eight in the recruiting stage. In the U.S., there are eight Crispr-related trials, six of which are recruiting and none of which are active.

Related article:  University coalition launches Gene Editing Task Force to advise FDA on animal biotech regulation

The country’s biotech companies and universities have worked hard to counter suspicions that their endeavors are rife with fraud and minimally supervised experimentation. The Genetics Society of China, the Chinese Society for Cell Biology and other groups were quick to condemn He’s gene-editing work, calling it a serious ethical violation.

Read full, original post: Why China Is the Brave New World of Editing Human DNA

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